Tomorrow is Fat Tuesday here in the U.S., which means it's Paczki Day. What's a Paczki? Paczki (pronounced "poonch-key") are a yeast donut that usually have a filling and some sort of sweet coating or glaze. In Poland, I believe that rose jam is the most traditional filling. In Michigan, there are a lot of variations, most of which are different fruit fillings, but some are cream filled as well. You can also find paczki that are covered with either powdered sugar, granulated sugar, or glaze. It is my understanding that it is most common in Poland to have them glazed. Serving Paczki is a Polish tradition, which is very much celebrated in this area in Michigan at this time of year. I am not Polish, but I live in a Polish neighborhood, and I love donuts, so it doesn't take much convincing to get me on board with adopting this tradition for myself. In Poland, paczki are enjoyed on Fat Thursday, which would have been last Thursday, but in the U.S.A. we celebrate Fat Tuesday tomorrow as the last day before Lent begins. (Although since the only thing I feel like giving up for Lent is folding laundry, I guess I don't really need to binge eat donuts tomorrow but I will for the sake of tradition.)
For my Paczki, I chose to fill them with Raspberry Rhubarb Jam, because it's my favorite and the sweet/tart combo works really well in a sweet pastry dough like these. I originally planned to glaze all of my paczki, but I did a few with granulated sugar and a few with powdered sugar and I actually preferred them when coated with granulated sugar, so I changed my plan.
A few tips when making your own donuts at home:
1. You don't need any fancy equipment other than a pan and a Candy/Deep Fry Thermometer.
2. Use caution when working with hot oil. Don't fill the pot to the top with oil...leave plenty of extra room for splattering.
3. Wear an apron.
4. Monitor the oil temperature closely. If the oil gets too hot, the donuts will brown long before the insides are cooked through. If the oil is not hot enough, the dough will soak up too much oil and your donuts will be greasy.
5. Sharing is nice, but not required. :)